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What can camping do to help self-absorbed young people?

In a past blog, I said that there are limits to what camping can do for self-absorbed young people who have never learned to give. A reader wrote me with this question: What would your response to the camping world be about how we create young people who know how to minister and give? Here’s …
By Seth Barnes

In a past blog, I said that
there are limits to what camping can do for self-absorbed young people who have
never learned to give. A reader wrote me
with this question: What would your response to the camping world be about how
we create young people who know how to minister and give? Here’s my answer:

camping

Two of my kids are camp counselors this summer in Indiana (at a camp for poor, inner-city kids) and in Wisconsin (at a camp for rich, suburban ones). They’ve both had a good experience and seen the good that camp ministry can do. Based on that and on my own positive camp experience as a young person, I offer the following five points.

1. Acknowledge and stick to
what camping is great at: connecting
young people w/ God’s creation and the wonder of it, and challenging them to
grow in their faith (“palms up” ethic), some aspects of discipleship,
for starters.

2. Recognize what camping struggles
to do: give disciples the outreach focus
& experience which Jesus demonstrated – the ethic of touching and
ministering to the poor & needy.

3. Improve what camping does
well by studying those camps that are particularly adept at discipling &
replicate their best practices.

4. Partner with mission
organizations to give those you’ve discipled the ethic of the outstretched
hand. A number of large camping
ministries have sought AIM out to do this.

5.
Do camping overseas as AIM did in Bosnia this summer,
using camps as a ministry venue for children who have been victims of war or who cannot otherwise afford it.

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